Serving in the Hood
by Jack Taylor
From the foundation of Faith in the 1940’s in South Vancouver, serving the neighbourhood has been a priority for us. In recent years that has involved housing for refugees, partnering with the Foodbank and South Van Neighbourhood House, operating two daycares, hosting the Royal Conservatory of Music exams, sharing the facility with El Redentor (a Spanish congregation), teaching ESL classes, tutoring, celebrating our East Side celebration, plus catering outreach banquets, Christmas eve dinner and candlelight service for the community, and hosting services and events for all generations without discrimination.
We state the value as follows:
Servanthood means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will grow toward
1) putting the best interests of others ahead of our own
2) utililizing our gifts, resources and abilities to the benefit of building up the body and the individuals in it
3) choosing humility, graciousness, gentleness and compassion as our first response to others inside and outside our immediate fellowship.
Growing up in a religious environment can have the effect of prompting us to unconsciously (or even consciously) categorize people, actions, lifestyles, situations, careers, and even fashion as white (good) or black (bad). Thinking in the grey zone between those extremes often leaves us uncomfortable and uncertain.
If there is clear scriptural teaching on something then we consider the culture and context of the original writer/readers and our current culture and context to communicate the teaching accurately without resorting to manipulation or guilt.
In this article I am merely pointing out that our service to others isn’t usually limited by who they are or what they do. It is more often our own heart that puts unnecessary boundaries in place to limit our effectiveness in crossing cultural, social or personal barriers in meeting the needs of others.
Duane Elmer, in his book, Cross-cultural Servanthood (p. 55), states that “nearly forty years of observation suggests to me that my (older) generation has tended to reject cultural diversity because we have not adequately distinguished it from religious diversity. We have tended to mix our culture and Christianity quite easily, quite comfortably and with little critique. Often confusing cultural differences with religious differences, we have judged cultural differences as wrong. In recent year the opposite seems to be more true. The younger generation, perhaps influenced by postmodernism and the general relativism of society, has been less inclined to distinguish between cultural and religious differences. They often prefer to see both as valid choices. Thus the younger generation blurs religious and cultural issues, tending to believe if peoples’ hearts are sincere, whatever their religious convictions, God will accept them. Both tendencies have their dangers, thought they are not the same. My own sense is that the two generations need to converse, moderate each other’s extremes and in doing so move closer to where God is.”
What do you think? Can we serve the diversity of our neighbourhood better by communicating between generations? Do you have any significant conversations with those of another generation or culture so that you understand how to serve better? Keep reaching out.
February 18, 2019
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